International private medical insurance (IPMI) is designed for people who are living or working outside of their home country, usually for six months of the year or more. Insurance plans can be purchased by individuals and their families as well as for company employees. International private medical insurance provides flexible and transportable medical protection, enabling the insured to be properly protected and take the cover with them if they move from one country to another.
Travelling abroad means coming into contact with different kinds of health risks and every country has its own health issues, endemic diseases and unique problems. Facilities overseas can be very different from what people are used to in their home country. Other issues such as language barriers and the lack of availability of certain types of medical treatment and medicines can further complicate matters. A comprehensive IPMI plan can provide peace of mind as the insured will only ever be a phone call away from vital medical attention and advice.
Insurers offer a range of health protection products to suit different lifestyles and destinations. Typically on a 12 month contract, the insurance will cover acute medical treatment for illness or injury and a range of other benefits including cover for GP consultations, routine and emergency dental treatment, maternity cover, optical cover, home nursing, evacuation and repatriation cover. Top level schemes may even provide cover for chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes and free annual health checks.
Key features explained:
With such a breadth of service and cover features on offer, we've honed in a selection that tend to be standard within most policies to help you understand some of the key aspects of IPMI cover.
Key service features:
- 24-hour multi-lingual customer service – medical help and assistance is usually just a phone call away, 24-hours a day 365 days a year. Typically you will talk to multi-lingual staff, many of whom will be medically trained.
- Global network of approved hospitals and clinics – insurers have networks of hospitals and clinics around the world. Wherever you are when you have a problem, you should be able to find medical assistance quickly and easily. And, if you can't, you'll be transported to the nearest place that can offer the care you need.
- Direct settlement – when you are treated in a medical facility that falls within your insurer's network your bills will normally be settled directly between the insurer and the insured. If you use a facility outside of the network, however, you may have to pay out of your own pocket and reclaim from your insurer later.
- Secure online plan management – with expatriates constantly on the move many insurers have created online portals that give policyholders easy access to important medical information and emergency phone numbers, their documentation, benefit levels/limits summaries and information on what is and what's not covered under their plans.
Key cover features:
- Cover for routine illness – this is one of the most common reasons for making a claim but bear in mind that what may be considered a fairly minor medical problem at home, may cause more concern if you are overseas.
- Evacuation & Repatriation cover - most insurers provide evacuation and repatriation cover as standard within an international private medical insurance policy. This can be used if specialist help is required that is not available locally to take you to the nearest centre of medical excellence or your home country if appropriate.
- In-patient cover – cover provided when a patient is admitted to a hospital or clinic that involves at least one night of stay relating to their care.
- Out-patient/Day-treatment cover – cover provided when a patient who is not hospitalised visits a hospital or clinic for treatment but does not stay overnight.
- Maternity cover – cover for routine pregnancy / childbirth and complications. A moratorium will usually be in place 10 months from the start of the plan before benefits are payable.
- Dental cover – cover for routine, complex and emergency dental cover. This type of cover is usually subject to annual claim limits and dependent on regular dental check-ups being taken.
Finding an established insurer that can provide you with the cover you need, has a good reputation, quality service delivery and robust financial strength is crucial. After all, you need to know you are protected when a problem occurs. My Matchmaker is an innovative insurance broker with access to many top insurers. This allows us to pick the cover that best suits your requirements and budgets from a range of top insurers.